My spirits are so very heavy. I try to summon the energy to blog. To do chores, to change diapers, to give baths, to make meals.

But it's not there.

I lay on my side of the bed each morning and think how another day has gone.

Levi knows something is up. He follows Michael around like a puppy and cries by the door when he leaves. He wakes up screaming at night and wants nothing to do with me. (We're thinking night terrors.) He just wants his daddy.

I'm anxious to return to Wisconsin. To the hustle and bustle of a busy life. To distractions. I have all this pent up ambition pulsing through my veins and it needs to be executed. I know who I want to be and I can't be her here. But in the midst of my day dreams I remember Michael won't be there, and every day brings us closer to a goodbye. It's a giant flashing light. panic. Panic. PANIC.

I hate feeling like a baby about this. The people I admire most are strong in the face of adversity. They have such grace and courage.

I want to, too. 

The End Of An Era (A Picture Heavy Post)

365 days ago we trekked 12 hours from Wisconsin to Kansas with a moving truck and 6 month old baby in tow. In a lot of ways it's been a hard year, but this is where we learned to be a family. This is where we made a life together.

When we first arrived Levi wasn't even sitting up yet. He fought acid reflux daily but that didn't stop him from being the happy guy he is. I was scared to death of being a parent without his grandparents around, and homesick to boot. 

Michael had just returned from his first tour overseas. He was (and still is) my rock through a season of change. 

It took a while to "get our feet wet". We often visited Pillsbury Crossing, a natural wildlife park buried in the rolling countryside. 

On our way out we'd stop to see the cows and horses. The land here is so yellow in comparison to Wisconsin's lush green. When I think of Kansas, I'll remember the golden light. 

The weather was quite a change for this born and raised eskimo. Kansas is HOT and when it rains - it rains hard. We have endured many terrifying storms in just a year. Although tornado season is April - June, this particular wall cloud appeared last September. 

Some of you may remember that we adopted a dog. We kept and loved River for several months before she found another home. We knew she would be much happier with a bigger family and a yard to play in. Levi is obsessed with animals and we think it began with River, but there will be no more doggies for us until we own a house.

We had many visits from Levi's grammys, grampys, aunties and uncles. That third bedroom really came in handy! Here Gramma was helping Levi sit up before a storm rolled in. (I can't get over that chubby baby face!) 

Levi and I had a brief experience with cloth diapers. If we ever have a utility sink those babies are coming back out for sure! I'm so glad we tried them.

Kansas State University is in the heart of town, and directly across from campus is a little shopping block called Aggieville. It's filled with places to eat, shop, and drink. My personal favorites include Bluestem Bistro Coffee, The Dusty Bookshelf, (where you'll find that handsome fella below) Kites Grill & Bar, (best. burgers. ever.) and CD Trade Post. (A fun throwback shop filled with all kinds of gaming/music/movie goodies.) 

I wish I could say I got better at cooking, but that's just not the case. One recipe we implemented into our menu was chicken chili. It's the perfect savory dinner during colder months, but we ate it all year round. Chicken chili literally takes ten minutes to cook and is very tasty. We've definitely turned it into a staple. 

This was our first entire year as a family, so we finally had a chance to enjoy the holidays together. I welcomed the cooler temps after a hot hot summer... but it didn't snow until Christmas had come and gone. (The photo of the pigeon was taken late December - still no snow!) 

We joined a gym in January, determined to fulfill those New Years resolutions. We were pretty dedicated until March, anyway. :) 

Levi turned one on February 19th. His Grammy and GGma came down to celebrate and mama made him sit through a smash cake session. I don't think he minded too much! (It's so odd that until his first haircut, he had stick straight hair. Now he has a mop of curls!) 

I started going to MOPS (Moms of Preschoolers) in November. It was there I met my friend Daneesha, and in March I started babysitting her two girls. Levi loved them! It was so nice to finally have a friend after months of not knowing a soul. (They actually lived in the same apartment complex as us.) We took the kids to the park and mall often, and even had Thanksgiving together. I think we managed to get away from the madness two or three times, once to see Bridesmaids. (SO GOOD.) 

It was here that I really decided to chase after my dream of pursuing photography. Michael and Levi let me drag them all over to practice. (There's that golden Kansas light again!)

We spent many a weekend in Kansas City while Michael worked for Strongbonds - a Chaplaincy wide program that the Army provides for soldiers and their families. Most of ours were marriage focused, so I've seen the seminar "Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage" at least five times. It's funny enough that I don't mind. These retreats gave us the chance to explore Kansas City and get away from the daily grind. 

Being a housewife and stay at home mom, I sometimes felt like all I ever did was clean and change diapers. Looking back, it's obvious we did much more. :) 

The temps this summer have been brutal, so any spare time was spent at the splash pad...

or eating delicious frozen yogurt from Orange leaf...

or playing at the park with new friends...

or chilling at the pool with said friends...

or eating corn at the county fair in the midst of sweaty, stinky people farm animals. 

But with the news of a second deployment came the realization that the end of an era draws near. We've been anticipating this all along, but now that it's here I'm having a hard time coming to grips... 

One year ago, I was not excited to be moving away from our home, our family, our friends. Now I believe this experience has changed us for the better and I'm thankful for the opportunity we had to live in Kansas. It's going to be a hard goodbye.